About two months ago, on May 7, 2020, the incomparable Lexis-Olivier Ray alerted me to the fact that, from his putatively safe haven in Simi Valley, Los Angeles Police Department Commander Timothy Scott Harrelson had just tweeted triumphantly about an LAPD raid on a “luxury apartment” Downtown due to “illegal cannabis sales.” But maybe you heard that cannabis is now legal in California? So this is essentially an arrest for tax evasion. Which is not something that ought to be at the top of any law enforcement priority list in the middle of a pandemic, right?
So I thought I’d look into the circumstances, and how better to do that than using the California Public Records Act?! There’s a problem, though, and that is the sad but true fact that the Los Angeles Police Department has completely stopped responding to my requests. When they first stopped I invented a few pseudonyms to make requests under, and this worked for a while. But then I started to file lawsuits over some of my pseudonymous requests so they caught on. Soon, I believe, they started tracking my pseudonyms as they identified them and then refusing to respond to those requests.
They are pretty prompt when the LA Times makes a request, though, which is part of the reason I think they’re singling out my requests for inaction. But this matter seemed important. Not only important enough for a new pseudonym, but for an actual backstory! And given LAPD’s responsiveness to the Times I thought of being a reporter. And from a sympathetic-sounding news outlet. And for a more convincing, at least superficially so, email address than the usual email@example.com. So I bought bluelinenews.org, fired up the random name generator and, using its suggestion, Rose Olsen, on May 9, 2020 I filed a CPRA request at lacity.nextrequest.com:
Continue reading It Took Me Two Months To Get Even A Minimal Amount Of The Story Behind A May 7 Copaganda Tweet From LAPD Central Division Supreme Commander Timothy Scott Harrelson — With A Public Records Act Request That I Filed Pretending To Be A Reporter At Blue Line News — Which I Made Up And Bought A Domain For To Use For Email — And — Even Though Obvious — The Ploy Worked Briefly In That Commander Harrelson Apparently Told LAPD Discovery Staff That He Was Going To Call Me — Me Being The Made Up Reporter Rose Olsen From Blue Line News — But Then He Didn’t Call — And LAPD Apparently Caught On To The Ruse — But I Did At Least Learn The Names Of The Arrested People — And The Location Of The Arrests — All Of Which Turns Out To Be Less Interesting Than The Process — Which Is Just How It Goes Sometimes
By now the whole world knows that John Lee, Los Angeles City Councilmember for District 12, formerly chief of staff to now-indicted former CD12 rep Mitch Englander, accompanied his boss to Las Vegas in June of 2017 to be plied with liquor, money, and sex in exchange for the usual list of favors to real estate developers. And Lee, known as City Staffer B in the indictments issued so far, admits going on the trip but denies receiving anything untoward or engaging in suspect or illegal activities.
And even though Englander’s indictment doesn’t mention anything leading up to that June 2017 trip, it’s clear that he and surely also John Lee had to have been conspiring with the developer for a while. Without a lot of prior discussion and understandings how would these conspirators have trusted one another enough to offer and accept such blatantly corrupt incentives? The indictment refers repeatedly to text messages between Englander, Lee, and the corrupt developers, so at least some of the pre-Vegas communication probably took place via cell phone.
And the City issues cell phones to Councilmembers and selected staff. While most criminals can probably understand that it’s a bad idea to arrange crimes on your work phone, it’s not impossible that Lee didn’t realize this at first. Regardless of the wily criminal tendencies of these political thugs they’re not bright people or at least have astonishingly poor impulse control. So perhaps early on Lee did use his work phone to communicate with his co-conspirators? And maybe at some point he realized that he might be leaving evidence by doing so? Which is speculation, of course.
But speculation or not it would certainly explain the highly suspicious fact that in January 2017 Lee asked his aide Brandy Turnbow if it were possible to get detailed billing records for his work phone from Verizon. By that time he’d worked for the City of Los Angeles for more than 20 years and yet the question hadn’t come up for him before his boss was running a criminal conspiracy out of City Hall. So Turnbow emailed Matthew Webster of Verizon asking him about it. And after a lot of tedious discussion he sent her the information she requested as an email attachment.
Which was tremendously good luck, because of course City emails and their attachments are public records. Which is how I laid hands on one of the most remarkable documents I’ve had the good fortune to receive during my long career of requesting public records. This is a detailed 300+ page call-by-call log of CD12 work phone activity from October 2016 through January 2017. It has all of Mitch Englander’s work phone calls, all of John Lee’s, and also other staffers. It includes not only the number called but the location of the caller’s phone when the call was made.
Continue reading In January 2017 — When The Mitch Englander CD12 Crime Conspiracy Must Already Have Been Busily Whirring Away — City Staffer B — Which Is To Say John Lee — Asked His Assistant Brandy Turnbow To Get A Copy Of His Detailed Phone Log From Verizon — Could He Have Been Using His Work Phone To Do Crimes? — Worried About What Lurid Or Incriminating Information He’d Spilled? — And Turnbow Did Get Them From Verizon — Via Email! — Which Is How I Came To Have Copies Of John Lee’s Phone Logs! — And Mitch Englander’s! — For November And December 2016 — Including Number Called And Location Of Lee/Englander At Time Of Call! — They’re Not Quite Formatted Enough To Search Or Sort Reliably — But Here They Are For To Exercise Your Detective Skills! — Like An Easter Egg Hunt For Grownups!
Los Angeles City Councilmember Jose Huizar will soon be spending pretty much all his time working out with his new Club Fed Golf Team buddies and Richelle Huizar probably won’t be joining him even though arranging for her election to the seat he’s termed out of was apparently one of the goals of his corrupt conspiracy. See this excellent story from yesterday’s Times for a timeline of her role in the CM’s troubles. And as you can imagine, I’ve been after records involving her for some time now.
But Jose Huizar, credibly accused of ordering staff to alter or destroy material responsive to pending public records requests, has not been very forthcoming. The only remedy the California Public Records Act provides to compel compliance is for a requester to file a lawsuit, and I’ve had to file three against Huizar’s office. Two of these involved emails between him or his staff and Richelle Huizar. This one against the City’s Information Technology Agency is still very much pending, but the City’s about to settle the other one.
And of course we don’t settle these things unless they hand over the goods, which in this case amounted to about 150 pages of emails in PDF format. You can take a look at here on Archive.Org. And it turns out that there’s nothing really incriminating in them but nevertheless these emails illuminate aspects of Richelle Huizar’s role in CD14’s operations that I wasn’t previously aware of. She communicated directly with high level staff about motions, met with constituents, attended executive staff meetings, and so on. The context is hard to understand but it’s clear that Jose Huizar was readying Richelle Huizar to take over the family business.
By the way, I’m not critical of that fact in itself. That is, I don’t have a problem with elected officials hiring their spouses or using them as informal advisors. The other aspect of this material that’s important is that Jose Huizar originally claimed it was exempt from release. As you read it, you’ll see that such a claim is not merely indefensible, it’s also ludicrous. In other words, the real lead here is that Jose Huizar is a liar.
Continue reading Newly Obtained Emails Between Richelle Huizar And Various CD14 Staff Show Jose Huizar Grooming Her To Run The Family Business — She Met With Constituents — Consulted With Chief Of Staff Paul Habib On Motions — Including One Relating To Tenants In Caltrans 710 Houses — Attending Executive Staff Meetings — Et Freaking Cetera — And It All Came Crashing Down About Them — As Castles In The Air Built By Lying Psychopathic Criminal Cheaters Will Do From Time To Time
All over the State of California local agencies are using the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to deny the public access to records required by the California Public Records Act. I don’t, therefore, have nearly as much material to write about so in response I’m writing about the lack of records instead, and the various ways agencies deny access. Here are some earlier posts on this topic.
It’s well-known among requesters of public records that agencies don’t just violate the law, they don’t just ignore it or misunderstand it or willfully misinterpret it. They also whine about it constantly, they aggressively mischaracterize requesters to create the impression that the requests are the problem rather than the agency’s noncompliance, and so on.
Such behavior is bad enough when governments do it, but at least in the state of California numerous private corporations, if created by the government to carry out government functions, are also subject to the Public Records Act. These entities, mostly business improvement districts and charter schools, are not only subject to the CPRA by law but also due to contracts they sign with their authorizing governments.
It strikes me as especially egregious when such quasi-private entities whine about their CPRA obligations and gaslight requesters because they voluntarily agreed via contract to comply. This is a brief post to highlight a recent example involving the gentrification-enabling Highland Park charter conspiracy known as El Rio Community School. It’s not the most egregious instance I’ve encountered, but it’s straightforward, so a good illustration.
Continue reading Dr. Katie Sobczak Chau — Supreme Commander Of The Gentrifying Charter Conspiracy Known As El Rio Community School — Is Very Unhappy That She Is Required To Comply With The California Public Records Act — And She Seems To Think I’m A Big Meany For Asking For Records — And Maybe I Am A Big Meany But I’m Not The One Who Signed A Contract With LAUSD Agreeing To Comply With The CPRA — And I’d Rather Be A Meany Than A Whiner Who Whines About Having To Live Up To My Own Freely Made Promises — I Mean For The Sake Of Argument Only Of Course — Since I’m Not A Meany — Or At Least Not Because Of My CPRA Requests
All over the State of California local agencies are using the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to deny the public access to records required by the California Public Records Act. I don’t, therefore, have nearly as much material to write about so in response I’m writing about the lack of records instead, and the various ways agencies deny access. Here are the first and also the second post not to mention the third posts in this series, and you’re reading the fourth!
Rena Leddy, supreme commander of the cartel-drug-money-funded criminal conspiracy known as the Fashion District Business Improvement District, refuses to let members of the public inspect records in person due to the pandemic, which may well be fine and normal. But she also insists that in order to protect public health and safety the only way for requesters to get access to electronic records is to mail her a brand new unopened USB drive onto which she will copy the records and mail it back.
This is an element of her pre-COVID program of obstructing access to records by making the process as onerous and costly as possible. But obviously any method which requires physical objects to be transferred between strangers is more likely to transmit disease than a method which does not. This is true not only for the people exchanging the objects but also for all the intermediaries, like mail carriers, mail sorters, staff members who have to open the envelopes, and so on.
Leddy is willing to increase the risk of disease and therefore death for requesters, essential workers, her own staff, and herself for the sole reason of delaying and obstructing access to records, and to do so in the name of protecting their safety. When confronted with these facts Leddy declined to contradict them, merely stating that the narrative was “out of control.” And it’s certainly out of her control, but where’s the lie, Ms. Leddy?
Continue reading Rena Leddy — Executive Director Of The Drug Cartel Funded Fashion District Business Improvement District — Is A Bloodthirsty Psychopath Who Would Rather Kill The Mailman — And Me — And Surprisingly Even Herself — Than Comply With The California Public Records Act — She Apparently Thinks This Is OK Because Her Lawyer Said It Was OK — Which Is A Strange Way For A Self-Proclaimed Adult To Make Moral Choices — But Not Uncommon Among Zillionaires And Those Who Serve Them — Who Have Shown Themselves Willing To Risk The Lives Of Essential Workers For The Most Stupid — And Trivial — And Self-Serving — Reasons Including Haircuts — Manicures — And Unnecessarily Exchanging Physical Copies Of Electronic Data — The Real Question Is — As Framed By The Incomparable Kitty Wells — Will Her Lawyer Talk To God For Her? — Knowing Carol Humiston I’d Say The Chances Are About Zero That She’ll Even Get A Chance — Being Much More Likely To Head In The Other Direction When The Time Comes
All over the State of California local agencies are using the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to deny the public access to records. I don’t, therefore, have nearly as much material to write about so in response I’m writing about the lack of records instead, and the various ways agencies deny access. Here are the first and also the second posts in this series, and you’re reading the third!
For more than six months now I’ve been looking into the question of why Uber and Lyft premium services, the ones that approximate limousines, I guess, continued to be allowed to pick up passengers at curbside in LAX even after October 2019 when the airport banned taxis and regular Uber/Lyft drivers, relegating them to a special off-site pickup lot. The matter first came to my attention via this October 29, 2019 Spike Friedman tweet and I sent them this request that same day. And as is typically the case the process is taking forever, although a little bit of information has dribbled out.
In February of this year e.g. LAX, in the person of Supreme Operations Commander Angela Jamison, produced a few emails, only one of which related to the question. This email, from Landside Management staffer Shirlene Sue, seems to be an answer to Jamison’s request for records responsive to my request. It basically says that Uber/Lyft premium services operate under different rules from regular Uber/Lyft and taxis and that’s why. It’s also worth noting that I made the request in October 2019 and Jamison sent me these three emails four months later. That’s more than a month per email.
Of course, the explanatory power of this statement is nil — essentially all it says is that they’re allowed to pick up passengers at the curb because the rules allow them to pick up passengers at the curb. It tells us nothing about how or why the decision was made. But Jamison claimed that these three emails were the only records responsive to my request (ridiculous color scheming in original; blue is from my request, red is Jamison’s response):
Continue reading Why Are Uber Black And Premium Limo-Like Lyft Cars — And For That Matter Actual Limousines — Still Allowed To Pick Up Passengers Curbside At LAX — When Taxis And Regular Uber/Lyft Pickups Got Moved Off-Site Last Year? — This Is Obviously An Important Question And I’ve Been Trying To Learn The Answer Through Public Records Requests Since October 2019 — With Absolutely No Success So Far — But Here Is Part One Of Yet Another Incredibly Detailed Story About How Local Agencies Deny The Public Access To Records Via Stalling — Temporizing — Mischaracterizations Of The Law — And So On — Because The Local Version Of The Old Lemons/Lemonade Adage Is — When Agencies Deny Records Requests Write Blog Posts About Their Denials!
As you probably know I’ve been investigating LAUSD charter schools using the California Public Records Act since January 2019. I was moved to this work by the monumental UTLA strike and especially the union’s focus on charter co-location.
I obtained some striking early results including an incredibly consequential release of emails from Green Dot Charter Schools, some of the fruits of which got wide and fairly devastating coverage in the media, including the Los Angeles Times, and Capital and Main, and Diane Ravitch’s blog, and elsewhere.
But this kind of success breeds resistance, so a lot of charters lawyered up and stopped producing records in response to my requests, or even stopped producing without the benefit of a lawyer’s advice. The only option left in such a situation is to start filing lawsuits, and that’s just what I’ve been forced to do.
In January 2020, for instance, I filed two. One ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ and the other against white savior charter conspiracy PUC Charter Schools, in some vague sense co-founded by former LAUSD board member and convicted felon Ref Rodriguez.
Continue reading Two Of My Public Records Act Lawsuits Against Charter Schools Settled In April 2020 — ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ PUC Charter Schools — Between Them They Paid More Than $11K — Which Was Supposed To Be Spent On Educating Children — But Which These Privatizing Pirate Academies Wasted Due To Their Appalling And Antisocial Arrogance — Here’s Some Background And Copies Of The Settlement Agreements!
Here’s another installment in my ongoing series of posts about the City of Los Angeles and the interesting ways in which its various departments violate the California Public Records Act. Today I’m looking once again at Los Angeles City Council District 13, repped by the fecklessly idiotic troll doll Mitch O’Farrell, and some of O’Farrell’s illegal email redaction policies. The story actually begins last March.
At that time I received some emails from CD13 containing conversations between staffers, LAPD officers, and local owners of commercial properties about homelessness. The discussions were filled with dehumanizing stereotypes and calls to starve the homeless, to use pressure-washing and illegal planter placement and other hostile measures to displace them, and so on. All of this not just uncriticized, not just accepted, but actively encouraged and facilitated by City staff and LAPD officers.
I found the whole scene appalling and wrote a number of posts exposing these privilege-addled sociopaths, the main one of which is here but this other one about Kanye West flunky Anthony Kilhoffer is also good. Some of them flipped out and threatened me and apparently others complained to CD13 that I had exposed their sociopathy to the world or that I was mean to them on the internet or whatever. Since then, clearly in response, CD13 has redacted email addresses of basically every correspondent who’s not using a government email address.
Dan Halden, who’s responsible for handling some of my CD13 CPRA requests, has told me that such redactions are legally justified because exposing constituents to personal mockery for advocating genocide against the homeless would create a chilling effect on their willingness to contact their elected officials. Here’s one instance of Halden’s articulation of this novel legal theory:
Continue reading Mitch O’Farrell And The California Public Records Act — Second Part Of A Series On His Outrageous Violations — He Has Instructed His Flunky — Dan Halden — To Redact The Names Of Constituents Who Send Him Insane Rage Rants Against Homeless Human Beings — Advocating Starvation — Forced Relocation — And Similar Genocidal Measures — And The Reason He Thinks He Can Hide Their Identities? — Because — Halden Says — Publicity Would “Chill” Their Willingness To Ask Mitch O’Farrell For “Help” — What He Means Is They Don’t Like Being Exposed And Mocked On The Internet For Their Sociopathy — At O’Farrell’s Bidding Halden Also Redacts The Names Of Actual Public Officials — Like Jittery Little Peruvian-Hating Psychopath Carol Massie — Of The Hollywood Property Owners’ Alliance — And Refuses To Explain Why — Although The Real Reason Is Obvious — O’Farrell Hates The Constitution — And He Hates The Law — And He’s Really Got To Go
Public records, you may have noticed, are essential to the work I do here on MK.Org. Without them it’s hard for me to find subjects without turning to unsubstantiated mouth-off-shooting. And local agencies including pretty much every department of the City of Los Angeles have always been very bad about producing records. They stall, they temporize, they lie, they go silent, and use a tediously unvaried set of ridiculous excuses to explain their noncompliance with the law.
And to that list of standardized and implausible excuses they’ve added the COVID-19 pandemic. About which they’re almost certainly mostly lying, but I still don’t feel right hassling actual individual City employees about my requests because who knows what unimaginable personal tragedies they might be dealing with? It occurred to me pretty recently that if the City’s going to fail to produce records for me to write about I could write about their failures to produce.
It’s an inexhaustible source of topics, and I’m kicking things off with a post about City Council District 13, an inexhaustible source all on its own. This ill-fated district is infamously repped by the widely despised Mitch O’Farrell, who along with his frontman and loyal minion Dan Halden, manages to violate the CPRA in any number of egregious but interesting ways, some of them unique in my experience to his office alone. Today we’re talking about just one of them, which is delay of production.
Continue reading Mitch O’Farrell And The California Public Records Act — His Office Violates It So Egregiously That — Comparisons Fail Me — Here’s The Story Of One Request — From May 2019 — That It Took Loyal O’Farrell Flunky Dan Halden Eleven Months To Complete — Along The Way He Lied And Lied And Lied — Obviously At O’Farrell’s Bidding — For Instance In June 2019 He Said It Would Take Six Months Of Work To Finish — And When He Finally Got Around To It He Did The Whole Damn Job In Essentially One Week — Which Would Have Been Great If That Week Hadn’t Started On April 14, 2020 — This Is The Same O’Farrell Who Voted Against An Eviction Moratorium Because He Said It Would Be Illegal For The City Council To Pass It — He Called It A “Pretend Measure Which We Could Never Enforce” — Which Is Apparently How He Sees The Public Records Act As Well — This Is Part One In An Endless Series By The Way — The Next Installment Is About O’Farrell’s Redaction Policies — Which Are More Illegal — And More Weird — Than You Can Probably Imagine — Hinted At Briefly In The Cartoon!
A couple months ago I wrote on how a massive development project in CD1 was approved. One of the aspects of the story most surprising to me was the intimate involvement of lobbyists at every stage of the process. Somehow I had thought that their role was more like influencing City officials, suggesting outcomes to them, talking to them, and so on. Something like ordinary public comment even if supercharged by highly enhanced access to official ears.
But it turned out to be far more than that. E.g. lobbyists actually write ordinances, resolutions, and motions which are then submitted to Council by Council District staff. The lobbyists understand City procedures much more clearly than electeds and staff. In some sense the lobbyists are actually running the planning and land use process with civil service staff effectively working for them. In the case I wrote about in March Gil Cedillo’s planning director, Gerald Gubatan, seemed to do little more than serve as a conduit between lobbyists for the developers and City civil service staff.
And I’m sure this is the norm, but given the dedication with which City officials and staff flout the requirements of the California Public Records Act proof is pretty hard to obtain. However, despite such obstacles there are still a few clues available here and there. For instance, let’s take a look at a project, apparently pending at least since 2017, at 2110 and 2130 E. Bay Street in the Arts District in CD14.
This is a massive project with the usual nauseating mix of live/work and creative blah blah blah of the too-familiar type beloved of zombie urbanist flackmonsters like Urbanize LA. Like all such projects, this one requires bunches of spot-zonings, variances, general plan changes, and so on. In particular, in exchange for a mere 12 “restricted affordable units” the City is proposing to rezone the parcels from Heavy Industrial to Commercial Industrial.
Continue reading Zillionaire Developer Albert Taban — Of The Famous Zillionaire Taban Klan — Is Building A Whole Block Mixed Use Monstrosity In CD14 — The Arts District — 2110 Bay Street — Which Needs Any Number Of General Plan Amendments — And Rezoning — And The Usual Load Of One-Off Ad Hoc Bespoke Exponential Property Value Multipliers Poured Out By Our City Council — Like Yummy Slop — Into The Piggy-Trough At Which These Developers Gorge — And So Taban Hired Lobbyists As These Zillionaires Will Do — But For Whatever Reason Jose Huizar Isn’t Pushing This One — So Eric Garcetti Took A Break From His Self-Declared State Of Emergency — And Sent It To The Planning And Land Use Management Committee Last Week — Which Might All Be Business As Usual — Who The Heck Even Knows? — But What’s Not So Usual Is That Stuart Waldman — LA Olympics Booster — LA 2028 Board Member — Supreme Commander Of Rightwing Fash Front Group VICA — Valley Industrial And Commercial Association — Who Is Not One Of The Lobbyists Hired By Taban — In Fact He’s Not A Registered Lobbyist At All — Actually Wrote The Damn Rezoning Resolution — That Got Submitted To Planning Commission Unchanged — Which Is Revealed By The Metadata — Waldman’s Not On Any Other Record As Being Involved In This — In Some Cities The Lunatics Are Running The Asylum — In Los Angeles The Piggies Are Running The Trough — Is It A Surprise Everything’s Falling To Pieces?